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In general, our world lumps “art kids” in a different box than “sports kids.” When you add in media representations of art kids being quirky, awkward loners or misunderstood geniuses, the separation grows more distinct.
In the same way, working as an art teacher often seems at odds with coaching a sports team. But, the change of scenery can be a big help in reaching those students with which you may otherwise have a hard time connecting. I see coaching as another tool for connecting with students. I coach the ultimate frisbee team at my school. It’s allowed me to connect with students in a way I never could in the classroom.
Being able to work with your students in something other than an academic or content subject area can be a game-changer. Most students make a conscious choice to play sports, so their investment and commitment can be markedly different from their engagement during the school day. Additionally, this may be a space where a student can really flourish and show their passion. Being a coach gives you a chance to support them in an endeavor where they can feel successful! Once you’ve made a connection with the student on the playing field or in the gym, you can bring that back into the classroom as part of a conversation, or maybe even as a subject for a project!
Rather than getting pigeonholed as the art teacher who never leaves the studio, getting out and about to support students in their athletic endeavors changes how you are perceived. And not just by students, but also by the other teachers and administrators in your school. We know art teachers get asked to do all sorts of “arty” and aesthetic things for their schools. This is a chance to shine and contribute in an unexpected way.
Getting out and moving around with students is just plain good for you! Being physically active helps with your own energy and enthusiasm, and that can carry over into the classroom. Moving around and staying active with your students can also help you multi-task and take the place of that visit to the gym you never seem to get to. And when the weather is nice outside, it’s awesome to get some sun and fresh air!
As a coach, you’re the first point of contact when you travel or host games. It’s a chance for you to get to know other teachers and staff at neighboring schools when you play against each other. Therefore, coaching can give you a bit more insight and connection to what’s happening in other schools and communities. Networking as a coach also doesn’t hurt if you’re looking to build a professional learning community of teachers or educators. All too often art teachers feel isolated as the arts specialist in their schools. This is a chance to get the names of the other art educators in your district or beyond and build your community of support.
While coaching, you’re often in a more relaxed atmosphere that encourages conversations around non-school topics. This setting makes it easy to form stronger bonds with your students and simply have fun. Plus, many times, coaching is compensated at schools in addition to your normal pay. It never hurts to make a few extra bucks!
Overall, coaching provides an enjoyable opportunity to work with students in a way that can really help them build their confidence. So put on some sweats and get out there to coach your students to victory!
What sports do you coach?
In what other unexpected ways do you engage with students outside of the classroom?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.